The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said it is not clear yet whether the spread of monkeypox can be contained completely, but that its target was to contain the outbreak by preventing human-to-human transmission to the maximum extent possible. WHO in a statement said “Tools to manage it, including readily available diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, are not likely to be immediately or widely accessible to countries.” The WHO Technical Lead for monkeypox, Rosamund Lewis, while speaking during a live session on Monday said close contact with monkeypox patients is the most significant risk factor for monkeypox virus infection, adding that the virus is moving into older populations, even in the endemic setting.
She also said the measures to curtail the further spread of the virus should be taken before it reaches more vulnerable people and makes itself a replacement for smallpox in the broader population.
The public health body on Monday also said that it is too soon to tell whether the recent monkey outbreak could lead to a global pandemic, but noted that there is currently a window of opportunity to curb rising cases.
WHO added that there are “still many unknowns” related to the spike in cases in non-endemic countries outside of Africa. It also advised that the virus should not be mistaken for COVID-19 and that the risks to the general public remain low.
Monkeypox is a rare but generally mild viral infection that can cause flu-like symptoms including rashes, fever, headaches, muscle ache, swelling and backpain. Typically it is transmitted through lesions, bodily fluids or materials that have been in contact with an infected person or animal.
Though sporadic monkeypox outbreaks are not unusual in Central and West African countries where the virus is endemic, health experts have been puzzled by a recent surge in cases across Europe, North America and Australia, raising fears of community spread.
Over 20 countries where monkey pox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, with more than 300 confirmed or suspected infections mostly in Europe.